Why are all the goats in Mumbai cowering in fear today?
Today October 26th is Id-ul-Zuha (Bakr-Id), which is also known as Eid al-Adha or Id-ul-Adha, is a festival that many Muslims celebrate with special prayers, greetings and gifts. It is also referred to as the festival of sacrifice.
Eid al-Adha is called “Bakr-Id” in India due to the tradition of sacrificing a goat or “bakr”
How it is celebrated…
Like most religious festivals in India Id-ul-Zuha is celebrated with great fervor and gaiety. Most Muslims will wear new clothes and attend an open-air prayer meeting. They may sacrifice a sheep or goat and share the meat with family members, neighbors and the poor. Many Muslims feel that they have a duty to ensure that all Muslims can enjoy a meat based meal during this holiday.
Large scale prayer meetings sometimes cause disruption to traffic (although most Mumbaikers may find it hard to distinguish between this traffic and regular everyday traffic jams which are just as bad)
Why the celebration?
Muslims around the world believe that Allah (God) commanded Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Ibrahim followed God’s orders, but God replaced his son with a sheep at the last moment. Muslims celebrate this at Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha is called Id-ul-Adha in Arabic and Bakr-Id in the Indian subcontinent, because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat or “bakr” in Urdu. The word “id” derived from the Arabic “iwd” means “festival” and “zuha” comes from “uzhaiyya” which translates to “sacrifice”.
I was told by my driver that approximately 500,000 goats are killed each year in Mumbai alone… while I could find no figures anywhere to substantiate that judging by the number of goats I saw tied by the street side and being transported around the city by cars, rickshaw and even motorbikes, I think it is fair to say that the goat population will be greatly diminished come tomorrow morning.
Now in Jamaica we enjoy a good goat as well… Curried goat (Or Curry Goat as it is simply called) as any self respecting Jamaican knows is a delicious delicacy. Goats are eaten all year round but there are certain auspicious occasions which would be deemed a “FAIL” if there were no curry goat on hand… these would be funerals, weddings, Easter dinner, Christmas dinner, relatives coming home from abroad, graduation, dance… well you get the idea. Like many of our traditions / eating habits this one can also be laid at the feet of our East Indian ancestors and it is just one more link that our cultures share.
When the East Indians first arrived in Jamaica as indentured labourers they were dismayed to find that there were no lambs about, but rather than give up their beloved curry dishes they utilized what was in plentiful supply… goats of course! I was raised eating curry goat in Jamaica and I have been fortunate enough to compare to the curry lamb dishes they have here in India and I can say that they taste quite different so the dish has evolved somewhat since it was first introduced way back in the 1800’s. In either case to the detriment of the goats… both are delicious!
I wish all Muslims a Happy Eid Al Adha!
Until next time…
One love, one heart, one people….